Hard To Love.

“I know I’m not easy to love. I’m a chronic over-thinker, I overreact more than I should…And every once in a while, I might be a little insecure. But if I’m in love with you, I can promise you wholeheartedly that you will be loved with so much passion and intensity. That you’ll forget what life felt like before I came along. You will always be cared for, and you will always have someone in your corner. Maybe I’m not the best at being loved – But I like to think I’m pretty good at loving.”  — Chelsea Carroll

 

I’m hard to love. At the first sign of a red flag or the first glance of your fear of commitment, I’ll bolt. I don’t have time for games, not anymore.

There was a time when I was patient with love, willing to bend and mold myself to be who I was told I needed to be. I was full of insecurities because of all the late night rendezvous, lame excuses and shady behavior.

I’m hard to love, not because I want to be but because that’s the way life has made me. My DNA is woven with never-ending thoughts of worst case scenarios. What may seem like a simple conversation to you is dissected by my brain until I’ve picked apart and over-analyzed every single detail.

This is the curse of an anxious mind.

I’m hard to love. I’ve been bruised and scarred by infidelities, lies, secrets and words that cut me to the core. I’ve been the one who was blamed for their transgressions and the sad thing is I thought it was my fault.

I tried to ignore all the warning signs, just chalking it up to my over-active imagination, but come to find out my gut was completely right. Ultimately, it was me who paid the price for not listening.

Stupid girl.

If only I would’ve been better, smarter, prettier, funnier, more charming … then they wouldn’t have thrown away everything like a piece of trash (or so I thought).

I’ve laid on the floor for hours, sobbing and feeling numb to everyone and everything, unable to eat or move or breathe. My brain couldn’t comprehend the destruction that had just ripped through my life like a tornado.

I’m supposed to be smarter and stronger than that. I’m not supposed to let anyone bring me down, but I did…repeatedly. I took the pain over and over again because that’s the only kind of love I could seem to find.

I take things personally, even when they aren’t meant to be. I find fault in myself and sometimes when the going gets tough, I break down. My mind shifts to overdrive and can’t make sense of the chaos, and at that point I pull away.

I’m hard to love because the moment I feel like you’ve got one foot out the door, I’m done. One time cheating, I’m done. Unwillingness to admit fault and work on things, I’m done. Shady lies and excuses, I’m done. I think you get the point…

I now have zero tolerance for bullshit.

I know I’m not easy to love, and that’s not a challenge that everyone can or is willing to take on. It takes a lot of time and patience to love someone with a Mental Health Disorder, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t worth it.

They say to “trust the overthinker who tells you they love you because they have most assuredly thought of every reason not to.” This quote couldn’t be more true.

I may be hard to love, but when I love someone I love deep. If I truly love someone, I go full force and do everything in my power to make them happy. I’m a people pleaser, and making others happy brings me joy.

However there’s still this other side of me, the wounded side, that won’t completely let down my guard until I’m sure of someone. Unfortunately, I haven’t been sure of anyone in a long time, and during those years my wall has grown taller and nearly impenetrable.

Now, I’m not sure if anyone can tear it down.

I know it may not seem fair to be so unforgiving when it comes to finding love, but you can thank the world for that. You can thank all the losers who have done nothing but prove my point time and time again.

I’m hard to love. I make no excuses for this fact, and I know I’m far from perfect. I’ve made mistakes and let people down. I’ve had one foot out the door and been unable to let my guard down before.

But what do you expect when all you’ve found in your attempts at love is heartache and misery?

I’m hard to love, but there are reasons. I’ve learned to be my own knight in shining armor, to never depend on anyone else and to not be trusting of others. I’ve removed all the gullibility I once possessed and replaced it with unrelenting strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being hard to love because ultimately we have to be our own savior, our own warrior. We have to love ourselves before we can ever truly love someone else.

We have to work past our demons and decide that we’re ready to truly give someone a chance. We have to be open to change and willing to slowly surrender ourselves to that person, all while bringing down that wall.

So be hard to love and wait for the right one who will tear down your walls, erase all your fears and prove your past experiences wrong. Be strong, be you and be patient. The right one will be worth the wait.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

Chasing After Happiness.

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”― Henry David Thoreau

 

We’ve all been on the journey of chasing happiness in one way or another. Some of us think we will find it in our careers, our family or by becoming famous. We are constantly searching for that missing piece, the thing that will make us truly happy.

However, the more we search for it the further away it seems. It’s a never-ending game of catch-me-if-you-can. While we’re going after that “happiness” we so desperately seek we often forget to appreciate the present, the very moments we’re given.

We forget to be thankful that we have a job, a family, a home, a warm bed and food on the table. We take so many of life’s blessings for granted because we’re always looking for the next best thing.

I, myself, am guilty of this. It seems that most of my adult life has been overshadowed by this daunting task of finding happiness, of achieving perfection. That’s no way to live.

Even if we achieve our dreams, the joy of that moment is fleeting, and before long we’re looking for the next thing that will fill the void.

What if instead of searching for happiness we focused on our blessings? What if we used all that time and energy to improve ourselves and to live our lives?

The funny thing I’ve learned about happiness is that we could search for a lifetime and not find it because happiness is not out there in the world. True happiness comes from within.

 

Chasing after happiness
Trying to find some peace
Trying to find something
To put my mind at ease
I’ve searched and wandered far and wide
Tracking every lead
But by the time I get there
Joy’s eluded me
I crawl back to the darkness
And make another plan
I really need to find it
For this dark I cannot stand
I try again, I search for light
But all that I can find
Is disappointing misery
That fills my wounded mind
As days go by and time drags on
I continue on my quest
The never-ending, daunting task
Of finding happiness
I’m weak and worn and at my end
I’ve got no more to give
I guess this dark and sadness
Is how I’m meant to live
But as I lay my head to rest
I slip into a dream
I find what I’ve been looking for
The light it starts to beam
And suddenly I see…
It was always inside of me.

 

I wrote this poem thinking about my own journey chasing happiness. I hope you all know that no matter what’s going on in your life, we are all in charge of our own happiness. We just have to find it within ourselves and let it shine.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

Today Is Hard.

“It is the hard days, the days that challenge you to your very core that will determine who you are. You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive.”  – Sheryl Sandberg

 

Today is hard. I’ve yet again had another door slammed in my face, another rejection that’s left me lost and confused.

I keep trying and holding my head up high, but the weight of disappointment is quickly dragging me down. I feel stuck in a pit of sinking sand that I can’t seem to escape.

I haven’t quite figured out the magic formula that will lift me out of these hardships, probably because in the back of my mind I know it doesn’t exist.

There is no magic cure for Mental Health Disorders, and honestly that pisses me off.

It doesn’t matter how many books I read, how many times I meditate or how many journal entries I write, my anxiety is always there. It’s always just waiting for the smallest of openings to creep back in.

Today is hard. I found myself struggling to merely get out of bed, and unfortunately this happens more that I’d like to admit. I have so many amazing things and people to live for and so much to do in this life.

Why does every morning have to be a struggle?

I numb my mind, my anxious thoughts, with TV or unimportant tasks just trying to not think about the judgements lingering in my head. I let my passions suffer because I’m too damn tired to fight the monsters in my mind.

The worst part of dealing with a Mental Health Disorder is that even when you have weeks or even months of good, you always know that the bad times are just up ahead.

You never know when they’ll strike, but trust me they’re there.

Today is hard. I feel like screaming and shouting at the top of my lungs merely to find relief from these feelings I’m holding inside, but I know that I have to keep it together. I don’t want to worry the ones I love and frankly I don’t want to let my anxiety win.

So instead of screaming and having a complete meltdown, I write this blog entry. I let my words speak for themselves so I can clear at least a fraction of my mind, so that I can maybe find some sanity.

It feels good to release all of these lingering doubts, fears and negative emotions, even if only for a while. It won’t be long until my mind is once again filled to the brim with worry, but for now I’ll cherish the peace and quiet.

Today was supposed to be a new start, a fresh beginning. I was hoping for positive news and an end to the mental suffering I’d been experiencing. Yet before I could even get out of bed, I received the complete opposite news.

It sucks, it really sucks to have such a hopeful, positive outlook. It sucks to think, this is the day when it all changes, when I break the chains that have been recently holding me down only to find out that my hope was naive.

Negative self talk immediately creeps in and again I find myself in a hole that I’d just escaped.

Each time I’m knocked down it makes me lose hope that things will ever change. It takes away the excitement of new opportunities because, what I’ve seen from the past few years is that excitement only leads to disappointment.

And once again I’m lost, looking for the next opportunity but not even sure of what I’m hoping to find.

All these doubts start to creep in and cloud my judgement. They make me take ten steps back in my progression towards mastering my anxiety, and suddenly I’m left to pick up all the pieces by myself yet again.

Today is hard. It’s hard because I constantly battle with the angel and devil on my shoulders. I know I shouldn’t let these refusals get to me. I know what I have to offer to the world, and it’s damn good.

I know I should push forward and take some of my own advice that I so freely give to others. However, I’ve experienced more rejection in the last 6 months than I have in the last 6 years, and I’m finding it really hard to deal.

I always say when the time is right, things will work out the way they’re meant to, and I truly believe that. The angel on my shoulder reminds me that I live a wonderfully blessed life, and I have so much to be thankful for.

However, the angel is meek, quiet and subtle. The devil on my other shoulder screams lies and insecurities to me, reminding me of my doubts and failures. He’s like a loud yet invisible sound that I find hard to ignore.

Eventually his words creep in my head and I’m left to deal with anxiety on top of anxiety. I wish he would just SHUT UP.

Today is hard. I’ve got self love and self hate, strength and weakness, doubts and reassurances all going through my head at the same time.

Welcome to life with anxiety.

Although this post seems like a negative narrative, it’s really not. By putting these words on paper I’m able to sort through these clashing thoughts. I’m able to think through the truths and the lies one by one.

Ultimately, my goal of each post is to show the true battle of Mental Health Disorders, to give you an real view of what happens inside an anxious mind.

We all have a devil and an angel. We all experience hard and good days, and in the end we’ve survived 100% of the bad ones. So never let that devil win, never let him take away that beautiful person that you are.

Listen for the quiet reassurances of the angel, and know that even though today is hard it’s not impossible. We will survive together.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

Comfort In The Panic.

“I don’t like my mind right now, stacking up problems that are so unnecessary. Wish that I could slow things down, I wanna let go but there’s comfort in the panic…” – Chester Bennington 

 

Silence, a sought after treasure that’s rarely found in our world today. Our world seems to be filled with so much chaos that moments of silence are priceless. I guess that’s why they say, “silence is golden.”

However, when living with a Mental Health Disorder, silence can feel deadly. I don’t want to listen to my thoughts, the never ending battle that’s constantly raging in my head.

I’m a casualty of an invisible war that no one sees and few understand.

Some may wonder how panic can bring a sense of peace. Heck, I myself question that statement every day. I long for serenity yet when I get it, it terrifies me.

If you personally know me, you know that I constantly have some sort of music playing and that I have to fall asleep with my TV on. My thoughts, no matter what time of day, become almost unbearable when they aren’t being stifled by some sort of noise.

When I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (and the 10 years that followed), I couldn’t muster up the courage to confront my anxious thoughts. They were overwhelming, terrifying and insufferable.

It took me many years of hard work and therapy to confront those dreaded monsters in my head. How can mere thoughts hold so much power?

That’s the unexplainable part of Mental Health Disorders such as Anxiety. I can’t explain it fully. I can only type out my thoughts on this page in hopes that it will give people even a fraction of understanding.

Panic is defined as “uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.” How ironic it is that I often feel more comfort in such chaos than in stillness.

Anxiety is a twisted, vicious disorder.

I think the most relevant reason that Mental Health Survivors, like myself, thrive in panic is because it becomes the norm. I constantly hear the thoughts in my head, and this is my daily reality.

I think that in some ways I create my own chaos which fuels my anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle that I can’t seem to escape. I constantly push myself to do more, be more, achieve more, and ultimately that pressure turns into uncontrollable anxiety.

In my mind, if I’m not achieving something I’m useless. Don’t ask my why my brain is wired that way because I have no clue. The need to do, to accomplish, fuels my reason for existence. It gives me purpose.

The fact that I thrive in a panic-driven environment only causes my surroundings to become more chaotic. Eventually, I’m neck deep in madness that starts to suffocate me. I cry and I question, “why can’t I just feel normal?”

I’ll never understand how a Type A, OCD person (myself) can even function in such an environment. The frustration of dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder is something that, no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to fully explain.

Anxiety Disorder is living with a set of constant oxymorons. I’m anxious so I need quiet, but the quiet makes my anxiety worse. I long for calm, but I desire chaos. I want to find my special person, but I also need to deal with this alone.

I want someone to comfort me, but I want no one around. I need order and structure, but my mind is a constant mess. I can get through this, but I don’t know how I’m going to live the rest of my life dealing with this.

I’m sure you can see what I mean by frustrating.

Even though life with Anxiety can seem overwhelming and unbearable, I constantly find a strength inside of me to go on. I look around at my family and friends, and they bring me calm in my panic.

There has never been a day where I’ve thought about giving up, but I know some can’t say the same. I understand the suffering that accompanies a Mental Health Disorder and the shame that comes with it.

There is still a stigma associated with Mental Illness, and I’ll never understand why. The world wonders why people don’t seek help, but it’s because of the labels that come with reaching out.

They wonder why we continue to live in our panic, our chaotic surroundings, yet never have the courage to talk about such controversial issues. I refuse to let society label me in a negative way. I refuse to sit back and not use my voice.

People fear what they don’t understand, and Mental Health is unfortunately still extremely misunderstood.

So if, like me, you have a messy mind, remember that it’s okay to thrive in panic. It’s okay to live your life how you’re able to manage it. If chaos brings you serenity then let your life be a crazy masterpiece.

The more I’ve explored my Anxiety, the more I’ve come to learn about myself and what works for me. Sometimes that means chaos, and sometimes (rarely) it means silence.

There’s no manual for this thing called life, and there sure as heck isn’t a manual for living with a Mental Health Illness. Never let anyone make you feel bad because of the things that make you, you.

Find your comfort in the panic, and be proud of your unexplainable, beautiful, messy mind. The most chaotic thoughts often create the most amazing things.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

 

 

Life Through The Eyes Of A Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

“They ride tricycles in the hallway, not in the park. They know the names of treatments instead of their classmates. Their central lines have names. Nurses and doctors are their new family. They think hair is overrated. Their laughter can make a heart melt. Their strength will make a grown person cry. If you have ever seen a child fight cancer, it will change your life forever!”

 

My alarm goes off at 5:10am, and I slowly drag myself out of bed. It’s time for another day of work at the hardest job I’ll ever love because I’m a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

As soon as I’m up and around, my mind is filled with anxiety. I’ve had a few days off of work so I’m not sure how the unit has been lately. I start to worry that I’ll have a terribly hard assignment or that I’ll end up losing one of my favorite patients.

Still, I push through the worry and get ready to go.

On the drive to the Children’s Hospital I listen to my favorite Christian radio station, trying to get some motivation and encouragement for what is undoubtedly going to be a tough day.

There’s never an easy day as a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I pull up to the hospital, and my anxiety starts to quickly climb. I park my car in my favorite parking spot, grab my bag and head inside. I walk to the other side of the hospital, and as I start to near my unit my fear reaches an uncomfortable level as I wonder what assignment I’ve been given today.

I’m scared that I’ll be taking care of the dying child or maybe even the difficult family. Will I get the kid who needs 5 chemo’s or the 3 year old patient who hates me and everyone around?

I start to wonder if I’ll be taking caring for one of my favorite patients or get a newly diagnosed patient. Will I have the uncooperative teenager who wants nothing to do with me or the family who frequently reassures me that I’m a great Nurse?

I think all of these things before it’s even 7am.

My heart races as I get report from the night nurse who’s obviously had a rough night. I find out there’s 2 end of life patients on the floor that could pass at any minute and 2 newly diagnosed patients whose families have a million questions (rightfully so).

You see, most people have this preconceived notion that, as nurses, we simply give meds and take vital signs. They have no clue what life looks like through our eyes, the eyes of a Pediatric Cancer Nurse.

I say “Pediatric CANCER Nurse” instead of Oncology because it makes it more real. Oncology is an elaborate way of saying the dreaded “C” word, the word that no one wants to hear.

I can only image that hearing “your child has cancer” is like stabbing someone with a knife and twisting it.

You see, the families and patients are the ones directly affected. Their lives are forever changed by those few short words. Parents bring their child to the hospital for a nosebleed only to find out that they have Leukemia.

Everything around them quickly changes, and they’re brought to the Hematology/Oncology unit where they’re given an enormous amount of information all while trying to process this life-altering news.

It has to be scary, overwhelming and painful to say the least.

And while the families and patients are the ones most affected, no one ever hears the experience from the Nurse’s point of view … until now.

You see, when a patient and family come in for the first time I’m terrified. I wonder if the family will like me, if we will get along or if the child will approve of me. I question if I’ll be able to help them process this terrifying news or if they’ll even let me in.

I become so attached to my patients that I can’t even explain the love I have for each of them. I would do anything to make them smile or to make them happy for even a mere second.

I’ve been a part of brutal nerf gun wars between patients and the nurses. I’ve pretended to be a princess, power ranger, dinosaur and race car driver. I’ve gotten down on all fours to play with my patients and let them squirt me with saline syringes just to get them to take their medications.

I’ve held patients as I rocked them to sleep, rubbed their backs when they were hurting and talked for hours on end about absolutely nothing at all. I’ve cried so many tears and shared so many laughs with them that I’ve lost count.

I’ve watched patients break out of the Bone Marrow Transplant unit and attended parties to celebrate the smallest of accomplishments. There’s no small wins in Pediatric Cancer.

I’ve seen the strongest children imaginable fighting a terrifying disease without any fear or worry. I’ve watched their hair fall out and their little bald heads emerge, and I’ve reassured them that bald is beautiful.

I’ve seen kids who were never supposed to make it beat the odds like it was nothing. Their courage constantly motivates and inspires me. If I’m having a bad day, all I have to do is see their face and instantly I am okay.

I’ve also watched patients dwindle away to nothing and held their hands as they slowly drifted off to a final sleep. I’ve sang songs to patients with tears streaming down my face as I watched them take their last breath.

I’ve held it together as I completed postmortem care and completely broke down when I got to my car. Somehow I learned to keep it all inside until I was alone, and then the floodgates break.

I’ve cried with families and hugged them for hours on end, just letting them know I was there. I’ve attended too many funerals and spoke of my favorite memories of past patients with my co-workers and families.

You see, being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse has changed me forever. It has shown me that life truly is short and that time is precious. It has reminded me that things can always be worse and that life is beautiful.

I started to see life through a totally different perspective, and I still carry each patient that I lost with me in my heart. I can tell you every name of every patient I’ve been close to. I can remember how they took their meds, their favorite TV show and what they wanted to be when they grew up.

Being a Pediatric Cancer Nurse opened my eyes to the big picture in life. As I watch my patients battle a tough opponent without fear, I am constantly reminded to be strong, resilient and unwavering in my faith.

As Pediatric Cancer Nurses we love hard, we celebrate big and we try our best to bring a glimmer of light in some of the darkest times. It’s a privilege to be able to do what we do, to hold the hand of a dying child and to celebrate the victory of another.

We comfort the grieving and celebrate the ones who beat the odds. We remember those whom we’ve lost, and we look forward to visits from those who are now cancer free.

I’m forever grateful for the perspective I was given by choosing Pediatric Cancer Nurse as a career. No one will ever understand how or why we do what we do, and that’s okay. It’s not meant for anyone else to comprehend.

This job is a calling, these patients are unforgettable, these families are remarkable and these memories are ones that I will cherish forever.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋 

 

 

** September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Childhood Cancer only receives 4% of the national budget from the National Cancer Institute. Our kids deserve MORE. This month be sure to #GoGold for Childhood Cancer Awareness and spread the word. Check out http://www.EraseKidCancer.org for more ways you can help! **

 

 

SomeOne. SomeDay. SomeHow.

“One day someone will walk into your life and get it right where everyone else got it wrong. One day you won’t have to wait for a call or a text back. One day you won’t be the only one giving your all …” – Anonymous

 

They say that someone, someday, somehow will come into our lives and change us forever. We’re told that everyone has a special someone, a soulmate with whom they spend their lives. Supposedly this person is predestined.

We’re told that someday things will all start to make sense. That all of our pain and heartache, laughter and tears will finally reveal their purpose.

While I can’t wait for this day, I also have doubts about the accuracy of these stories, unfortunate doubts that this evil world has put in my head.

Can someone really change your life to that capacity?

You see part of living with anxiety is being impatient, doubtful and unable to totally deal with the ebb and flow of life. We’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

We find it hard to get excited about people or things because most of the time people only let us down. We battle with our constant highs and lows so often that most times we feel like we’re riding a damn roller coaster.

This is a mere glimpse into the surface an anxious mind and heart.

They say one day we’ll discover the meaning of our journey and that all of God’s plans will be revealed to us. We’ll finally understand why we had to go through all our trials and tribulations.

In a way that terrifies me. What if I don’t like the answer? What if God’s plan isn’t what I envision for my life? Despite the anxiety that comes along with discovering such an enormous truth, I wish that day could be today and that time could be now.

Honestly, I’m starting to run low on faith.

I’ve heard it said that someday you’ll find the love of your life, that special someone that makes you feel complete. In movies we see it portrayed as fireworks and ooey gooey romance.

I know that’s not reality, but just finding that someone has to bring a level of comfort and bliss.

I have a really back and forth mindset about love. Somedays I want it more than anything else. I truly want to find that one person that’ll be in my corner and have my back no matter what.

I long to find that someone who will love me for exactly who I am without judgement or expectation. I want to explore the world with them, plan my dream wedding and eventually have a family.

I often find myself fantasizing about these magical moments, but then reality hits and I can’t even imagine ever finding my person.

It also doesn’t help that I’ve never had a stable, healthy relationship so I’m not sure I’m going to know what to do when I find the one. I’m hoping there’s truth to the “you’ll know when you know” saying.

I guess you could say fear of the unknown goes hand in hand with anxiety. We’re doers, planners, list makers … we don’t like things being out of our control. However, this is one aspect of my life that I’m powerless, and I hate that feeling.

I feel like I’ve been let down so many times in love that each time a fragment of my heart (and hope) is chipped away. I fight hard not to let myself fall for someone, but in the end I always fail.

My heart only has two settings: love completely or not at all. Because of this, I find myself picking up the pieces of my heart over and over again.

I want nothing more than to find that someone that will someday and somehow come into my life and unexpectedly sweep me off my feet. I yearn for the day when I can love full force without risk of tragic heartache.

I just wish someone could prove to me that this fairytale love truly exists.

To top it all off, society makes us feel like we should be married and having children in our early 20’s. If you aren’t in a relationship people start to wonder what’s wrong with you. They question why you’re single.

This is so frustrating to me. I’m a human with feelings, hopes and dreams. Do you think I want to be single? Do you think I like being alone? Yet the questions never seem to end, and after a while you also begin to think something’s wrong with you.

I’ve had to dig myself out of this self-doubt hole a time or two. It took me years of therapy and inner work to realize that I’m worthy of true love and that I have a right to wait for the man of my dreams.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being picky.

If anything waiting for that someone protects my heart from being shattered yet again. It shields my emotions and strengthens my independence. I’ll never need a man, and that my friends is power.

I feel as if love is just another roller coaster in my life, full of ups, downs, twists and turns. However, this is one instance where my anxiety has been an asset to me. You see, roller coasters no longer scare me for they’ve been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

With the highs, lows, loops and adrenaline comes adventure and thrill. While my anxiety doesn’t exactly love the excitement and stimulation, the rush reminds me that I’m alive. It reminds me that I have so much to life left to live.

So I’ll continue on the unpredictable ride of life until my someone makes it to me someday, somehow.

 

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋

It’s Not The Darkness That Scares Me.

“I don’t know what it’s like to not have deep emotions, even when I feel nothing, I feel it completely.” – A. R. Asher

As a child we’re told scary stories about monsters that lurk in the darkness. We sleep with a nightlight and hide our heads under the covers, afraid of what may be hiding in the shadows.

At such a tender age, monsters seem to be the most frightening things we could ever imagine. It’s not until we become adults that the real terror reveals itself to us.

You see, it’s not the darkness that scares me. Instead it’s my never-ending thoughts of worry and the paralyzing numbness that haunt my body, my mind and my soul.

It seems like every time I’ve almost gotten myself out of that dark place, anxiety pulls me right back in. The darkness doesn’t scare me. If anything it gives me a sense of solitude from my own messed up mind.

What seems to affect me the most is not the freedom that comes from reaching the light at the end of that tunnel nor the dark tunnel that precedes it. It’s the never ending struggle, the tug of war feeling, that I’m forced to live through every day.

You see, having Generalized Anxiety Disorder means fighting a constant, daily battle. Most people can’t fully comprehend this, and I’m happy that they don’t understand. That just means they’ve fortunately evaded a frustrating, lifelong journey of obstacles.

Having a Mental Health Disorder is like wearing a ball and chain. Those who deal with these diseases can seem “normal” and act like everything’s perfect, but in reality we’re being mentally hindered by our own minds.

Sure, I can overcome my disorder from time to time, and I’ve even learned to somewhat manage it. Yet, in the long run it comes back to find me again and again. There is no escape.

While dealing with constant anxiety is tough enough, I also struggle with my faith in love, humanity and sometimes even God. I try to wait patiently for the things that I know God has planned for me, but my anxiety tears me down.

It points out how all of my friends have moved on with their lives to have successful careers, significant others and children, events and playdates. Each time I reach out to someone they’re unavailable because they’re busy with their own lives.

This is all completely normal in the evolution of life, but when I feel like I’m getting left behind it allows my anxiety to take over. It causes me to lose faith, to feel numb to the world around me. It causes me to slowly lose hope.

The worst part of it all is that I try my hardest to shut down my negative thoughts, to listen to the light within my heart, to be the bright, radiant person that I know I am.

Nevertheless, the dark silence is louder than the positive whispers in my ear, and in this moment right now, my disorder is winning.

It’s the most frustrating feeling to fight an invisible, daily battle that no one else can see. I can try to explain it to others, but they’ll never truly understand the struggle and pain that I go through.

While the darkness in my mind can be scary, it’s the numbness that I occasionally feel that truly terrifies me. I’m not talking about “my foot fell asleep” sensation. I’m talking about the “I’m here but I don’t feel like I’m even present in my own body” type of feeling.

It’s hard to describe, but when I get in that mode I’m essentially a zombie. I go through the motions of everyday life, but I’m not actually present. My mind is a million miles away, and my body is a mere vessel.

Those moments terrify me the most because they make it difficult to recover. Each time I fall into a paralytic mental state, I find it harder and harder to make my way back to reality.

It get’s tough because those moments are the only moments where I’m truly free from my mind. I have no thoughts, no worries, just complete serenity. However, I always find that those times are usually followed by depression … another enemy of mine.

I constantly battle with myself, knowing what I should be doing but hardly having the strength to power through my anxious thoughts. Then comes the anger. I get so mad that I can’t just “fix” myself. It’s a never ending roller coaster of emotions.

So you see, the darkness doesn’t scare me anymore. It’s the monsters lurking in my mind that truly terrify me, trying to convince me everyday to give in to the sadness, depression, anxiety and fear.

For now, I’ve once again defeated their attempts, but for the rest of my life I’ll have to fight this never-ending battle.

No matter how long and tough the journey may be, I’ll forever strive to reach the light at the end of that tunnel because I am stronger than my disorder.

The battle will rage on until the monsters give up, the numbness disappears and the light is the only thing I see.

XOXO,

Myka Shantell💋